He came into the scene and immediately caught our attention. We were used to the famous and unmatchable antics of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Bret Hart, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Sergeant Slaughter and a host of other wrestling greats from the 80’s/90’s but there was something about this guy. He looked different, acted different; in fact, he brought the drama into dramatic and before long, he became everybody’s favorite.
I remember a day many years ago; when I and my siblings were coming back from school. I couldn’t have been more than 10. As my dad drove close to the gate of the compound where we lived, we saw a neighbourhood playmate dressed in the Ultimate Warrior regalia (which actually meant not being dressed at all except for a dirty underwear and ropes tied on the leans biceps of each arm to a scrawny little body that bore no semblance to the muscular ferocity of the ring warrior and the trademark chalk sketch on his face), huffing and puffing as arms went up and down in calculated motions as if he was trying to draw strength from above.
We all laughed that day and though my dad would never have allowed me or my younger brother do that without consequences (and by that, I mean good thrashing with a cane), I secretly longed that for a short while, I could be like my neighbourhood playmate and dress like everybody’s favorite WWF(as it was called then and it remains for me the only time when we had real wrestling ) hero for a few minutes, run around the streets of my neighbourhood and just be like the Ultimate Warrior.
We all loved the WWF character played by James Brian Hellwig. He was dogged and never ever seemed to give-up. The epic encounter between himself and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI where he bested Hulk Hogan to clinch the WWF title remains one of the best wrestling matches of all time.
The Ultimate Warrior was an inspiration to my childhood and though he didn’t last on the wrestling scene as long as other WWE greats, he made a lasting impression on me and on every kid of my generation who was really into what wrestling was and not what it is today.
James Brian Hellwig a.k.a. The Ultimate Warrior died on the 9th of April, 2014 at the age of 54. May his soul rest in peace and may his family find comfort in the fact that his heroics inspired many worldwide.
He will never be forgotten.